The current WWE roster is loaded with great talent all across the board. WWE decided to move forward with the brand split due to the number of capable performers on the main roster and down in NXT ready to move up. Raw and Smackdown Live have two unique rosters with their own brand identity now. That means more opportunity is ready to be seized. Not everyone is making the most out of the changes. A few wrestlers have exposed themselves as being overrated and not able to shine in the way WWE are hoping to get out of them.
On the other end of the story, WWE still manages to not get the most out of a few talented performers. Some of these performers have been given opportunities, but still not used to the best of their abilities. WWE could easily get so much more out of them. The list will look at overrated and underrated wrestlers from both management and the fan base’s various perceptions of them. Wrestlers selected either have failed to rise to the occasion or have been miscast by WWE booking. These are eight of the most overrated and seven of the most underrated wrestlers in WWE today.
15. Overrated: Dolph Ziggler
Wrestling fans have rallied behind Dolph Ziggler for many years and he has proven us wrong. Ziggler appeared to be one of the most talented wrestlers in the company, but WWE started to sign stronger talent. The new look roster has rendered Ziggler obsolete after exposing him. Ziggler has failed to take his game to the next level in his few chances in the main event picture.
The first big Smackdown Live WWE World Championship angle following the brand split saw Ziggler emerge as the contender to challenge Dean Ambrose at Summerslam 2016. Ziggler had a world title shot on the second biggest show of the year and absolutely flopped. Fans showed no interest in Ziggler during the biggest match of his in recent history. Ziggler was destined to be a mid-carder unworthy of the main event role. He’s also embarrassingly bad at stand-up comedy, but we won’t digress on that point.
14. Underrated: Cesaro
The career of Cesaro in WWE has been a wave of disappointment from fans wanting the company to do more with him. Cesaro is currently half of the Raw Tag Team Champions with Sheamus after ending New Day’s record breaking streak, but everyone is still holding out hope for a singles run. It has helped showcase the greatness of Cesaro, but someone with his talent is far better off in a singles role to move up the card.
WWE revealed a “match of the year” collections playlist on the WWE Network showcasing the best bouts of 2016. Cesaro had the third most appearances on the playlist (3 matches) only behind Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. Factor in that Cesaro missed the first three months of the year with injury. No one deserves a singles opportunity more in the brand split era than Cesaro. Hopefully WWE can finally give him a fair chance in the near future.
13. Overrated: Natalya
There is nothing outwardly bad about Natalya. The third generation member of the Hart family is a technically sound worker that does well in a secondary role. Natalya however lacks the special “it factor” that prevents her from being one of the faces of the women’s division. Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss are just some of the top ladies to take control of the women’s division in 2016.
Natalya disappointed in her angle with Charlotte that was the worst feud of the year for the women’s division. Many campaign for Nattie to get a chance, but she has failed to live up to the expectations when receiving it. Smackdown Live’s recent reveal to the mystery storyline of Nikki Bella’s attacker was revealed to be Natalya. It feels like a waste of a big reveal for it to be Nattie. The best use of Natalya is a secondary player in the women’s division that remains out of the noteworthy storylines.
12. Underrated: Emma
The WWE career of Emma has been hugely disappointing with nothing of note happening for her on the main roster. Emma had two tremendous runs in NXT as a dancing face and later as a ruthless heel. The latter run felt like the right character for her to work on the main roster with. An injury stopped her from getting a true chance to play the NXT character on the Raw roster following the brand split.
The Raw women’s division has revolved around with Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks with Bayley coming into the fold recently. Emma’s transformation into Emmalina is another character change that has been teased for months. There are conflicting opinions about it online, but everyone should be rooting for Emmalina to get an opportunity to contend with the top female stars on the brand. Emma’s outstanding talent is up there with the best of the best and could easily be a Raw Women’s Champion if pushed strongly.
11. Overrated: TJ Perkins
The return of the cruiserweight division has been a difficult experiment for WWE with the Raw brand. WWE Network’s Cruiserweight Classic did help get across the competition between the talented wrestlers. TJ Perkins just happened to be a terrible choice to win it all and be crowned the Cruiserweight Champion heading to the Raw roster. The in-ring work of Perkins is great, but not at the level needed of the champion of a new division.
Perkins also lacks the personality to connect to a broader audience. The Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann and Neville all passed him in the pecking order within a few months for good reason. Perkins did so poorly in the initial stages of the cruiserweight division that WWE took the title off of him in a few months. The disappointing reign of Perkins put the division in a terrible state. Neville’s return and heel turn has finally helped turn the momentum around to have a better year for the smaller wrestlers in 2017.
10. Underrated: Apollo Crews
WWE saw something special enough in Apollo Crews to bring him up to the main roster within less than a year of his time in NXT. Crews is one of the most athletic wrestlers on the roster with a tremendous look. The physique of Crews is ridiculous and he flies around the ring like a cruiserweight despite his larger mass. WWE has unfortunately found nothing to do with him since the call-up to the main roster following WrestleMania 32.
One of the biggest disappointments of the Smackdown Live brand has been the lack of a purpose for Crews. Aside from losing a couple of Intercontinental Championship title matches, the talented superstar has been on television inconsistently with irrelevant appearances when he is on the show. Crews has a great backstory of his parents moving to the country for a better life and him making the most of his passion to get to the big stage. WWE has to find a way to spotlight him soon.
9. Overrated: Dean Ambrose
The Shield will always be remembered as one of the greatest factions in wrestling history. All three members have however had different routes following the breakup. Seth Rollins went on to become a successful world champion. Roman Reigns is a polarizing, but highly successful main-eventer. Dean Ambrose was the odd man out being distantly third behind his two peers for quite some time.
That ended in 2016 when Ambrose won the Money in the Bank briefcase to cash in and defeat Rollins for his first WWE World Championship reign. Ambrose could not get any momentum as a champion and none of his feuds worked out well. Unlike Rollins and Reigns, Ambrose didn’t appear to rise to the occasion and lost a lot of his credibility as a top singles star. Fans turned on him in favor of AJ Styles and WWE made the title switch. Ambrose has improved a bit since losing the title, but he doesn’t appear to be a viable top guy.
8. Underrated: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
It is often forgotten, but Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were huge names at the beginning of the year. WWE made headlines signing AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Anderson and Gallows away from New Japan. Styles is the WWE World Champion on Smackdown Live and Nakamura is the NXT Champion. Sadly, Anderson and Gallows have become afterthoughts after a horrible year of WWE booking made you forget how talented they are.
The past life of Anderson and Gallows in the Bullet Club saw them become one of the best teams in the world for New Japan. They looked like jokes in WWE during their feud with New Day. Anderson and Gallows dressed as doctors in cheesy segments executing horrible comedy and went on to lose every tag title match. Following all of the losses, Anderson and Gallows have become irrelevant on Raw. That has to change soon or WWE will have wasted both their money and the talents of an outstanding team.
7. Overrated: Enzo Amore
The main roster call-up of Enzo Amore and Big Cass provided more excitement than we should have had for the tag team. Yes, they were great on NXT, but the main roster exposed them, especially Enzo. The repetitive promos of Enzo have a bit of charm. However, the promos lack direction or purpose. We all have a good laugh at them and then move on to the next segment. It becomes one-dimensional and pointless after a while.
The in-ring work of Amore is not full of love for the viewer. Cass and Enzo should have been the tag team chosen to end New Day’s record breaking tag title reign, but have been a secondary team in the division. Cass showed more progression during singles outings. The big man held his own in a fatal-four-way match for the WWE Universal Championship that Kevin Owens eventually won. Enzo has been exposed way more as the weaker link of the tag team not ready for success on the bigger stage.
6. Underrated: Rusev
Does anyone remember when Rusev was an undefeated monster worthy of having a WrestleMania match with John Cena? Yeah, it’s okay, most of us forget about it too due to the lack of strong booking for Rusev since then. WWE tried splitting him up from Lana on air and it almost killed both of their careers in the process. Luckily, they figured out Rusev and Lana work best together to reform them as a unit.
Rusev still doesn’t get the respect he deserves as a top tier heel. The best work of Rusev can match up with almost anyone on the roster. It felt like he was starting to be treated with credibility again when becoming the United States Championship, but just lost it to Roman Reigns after a couple of months. Rusev turned into the punching bag for Reigns and has fallen back down into the midcard territory failing to reach his potential.
5. Overrated: Bray Wyatt
We have been waiting on Bray Wyatt to become a main event performer for a few years now and it just never happens. Wyatt has one of the more unique personas in WWE, with a tremendous charisma that is unlike anyone else on the roster. The inability to progress enough to contend with the top stars of the company always manages to leave him looking secondary to those in the title picture.
Wyatt spent most of 2016 in forgettable angles. The year started with him slated to face Brock Lesnar in a huge WrestleMania 32 match but WWE replaced him with Dean Ambrose. Bray was humiliated by The Rock on the show and moved into a state of disarray until recently having Randy Orton join The Wyatt Family. Orton manages to outshine the leader of the group and the lack of excitement in Wyatt’s work continues to hold him back. The character has reached a stale point and something big needs to happen if Bray wants to become a future world champion.
4. Underrated: Luke Harper
Speaking of The Wyatt Family, the most underrated member of the group is clearly Luke Harper. Pound for pound, Harper may be the best-rounded wrestler on the roster. Harper can hold his own against the strongest big men in the game and has the ability to fly around the ring with the cruiserweights. The mysterious personality provides another dynamic to Harper’s character work that has made him a perfect fit in the Wyatt Family.
WWE, however, does nothing with him aside from have him play a second fiddle to Bray Wyatt. Harper is arguably more talented than Wyatt with bigger potential. The fact that we rarely get to see him wrestle in singles matches is a shame. We may have another Cesaro situation with Harper being used as a lower tier mid-carder for the majority of his career. Wyatt turning face and Harper forming his own heel group as the leader could be a perfect change of pace for all.
3. Overrated: Shane McMahon
Longtime wrestling fans hold an emotional connection to Shane McMahon for all of the crazy stunts he pulled off during his matches. It is hard to forget about someone willing to jump off of the set or get suplexed through a glass wall. Shane returning to WWE this year gave us one of the most incredible moments with the fans losing their minds for the old hero coming back.
Unfortunately, McMahon’s match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 reminded us that he doesn’t do much aside from the stunt moves. Shane’s jump from the top of the Hell in a Cell structure was remarkable, but the rest of the match was a bore. The personality of Shane-O-Mac is fine, but quite lackluster to his father or sister. Smackdown Live works better when Daniel Bryan is the person in the authority role.
2. Underrated: Roman Reigns
Give me a chance to explain before you start booing me from your computer screen or smartphone. Roman Reigns is definitely one of the most over-pushed wrestlers in recent memory, but he is also one of the most talented performers in WWE. The matches Reigns had against the likes of AJ Styles, Finn Balor and Rusev this year showed just how great he could be in the ring. Reigns’ series of matches with Styles were among the best matches of 2016.
The problem is that WWE pushes him with a smug and painfully unlikable character. Reigns can’t be the “Superman” of WWE like John Cena and it forces fans to punish him for it. If WWE turned Reigns heel, he would be the most compelling performer in WWE. The resentment towards WWE for shoving him down our throats have made us all under-appreciate Reigns and underrate his superb talent. Don’t forget Roman was a huge reason for The Shield becoming a massive success.
1. Overrated: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar was the biggest disappointment for WWE in 2016 and has become the most overrated wrestler in the business. The attraction of Lesnar has been outstanding in recent years since he returns to pro wrestling following his MMA career. WWE invests more money into Brock than any other performer, but the dude just didn’t seem to care this year. Lesnar dropped the ball in two high profile matches.
The WrestleMania 32 match with Dean Ambrose was the biggest disappointment on the card with it feeling like a B-show match. Ambrose claimed Lesnar didn’t want to do anything cool and was downright lazy. The laziness showed at SummerSlam with Lesnar having another repetitive match with Randy Orton that wasn’t worthy of the main event spot. Brock’s only memorable moment all year was losing to Bill Goldberg at Survivor Series. When you are considered one of the biggest stars in the business, you are the definition of overrated when your best performance in a year is getting squashed in 86 seconds.
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